Deeson’s, Canterbury.

Deeson’s is amazing. We were looking for a nice restaurant in Canterbury and we found it. Some 500 strong reviews recommend Deeson’s as THE place to eat in Canterbury, when we couldn’t get a reservation for dinner we were devastated. Our commitment to fine dining is so strong that we took an early dinner, 5pm slot and we were not disappointed.

Deeson’s use local produce where possible and have ‘Taste of Kent‘ awards – we salivated at the thought.

Of course, we looked at the wine menu first and when we saw our favourite, Chapel Down‘s Flint Dry, we had to go for it. The rest of our menu choices came from there, having white wine, we decided to go white meat and fish…

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Toby started with a Seafood Platter. Mackeral pate, salmon mousse, deep fried scallop and whitebait. It was a feast for the eyes and the mouth.

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I went for the Broccoli Soup which was superb and presented in its own little saucepan.

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Main course – Toby went for the Sea Trout with Pak Choi and cockles, with a delicious buttery sauce.

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I went for roast chicken with a roast chicken pie, fondant potatoes, endives, chanterelle mushrooms and bacon sauce. It was superb! Usually chicken is a boring option but this was something else.

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For dessert;  a cheeseboard. A good range of British cheese and all arranged in a very interesting way. The brie was warm – they really take the care to get it right.

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I went for a mulled wine poached pear with honeycomb ice cream and a flapjack – it was sensational. It tasted like Christmas.

The ambience and service are superb. For four people dining, three courses each, wine and tea and coffee, the bill came to a reasonable £160 – £40 a head. We were all stuffed and satisfied and can’t recommend Deeson’s enough.

Come Dine with Me

DACWM Menu

All foodies love watching Channel 4’s ‘Come Dine with Me‘ and I have wanted to host my own ‘Come Dine with Me’ style dinner party for a while and we have decided to do just that. Three sets of friends; three nights. Ours was the first, the friends we are competing with are from overseas, so we decided to go for a ‘Best of British’ menu. The (wonderful) menu was designed by Toby.

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To start we had pimms and prosecco cocktails with a cucumber garnish and some ‘British themed’ canapes; mackerel pate, mini prawn cocktails, sausage rolls and some oyster and vinegar crisps made by the ‘Kent Crisps‘ company, a great start to the evening (we thought). Only the cocktails are pictured as we gobbled down the canapes far to quickly for any photography to take place…

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Our starter was a Crab and Salmon Tian. We went to Whitstable to source the crab, we wanted everything to be local where possible. I am usually awful with presentation so these little beauties made me feel a little better about that…

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Next up, our main course; Roast rack of Lamb with dauphinoise potatoes and redcurrant jus (gravy for us common folk). We served the lamb with green beans and carrots. The lamb was from our fantastic local butchers, Glover’s Farm in Hartley. As I suck at presentation, we put the vegetables in ‘help yourself’ dishes – I recommend this to those that can cook but not serve.

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Dessert was a ‘Trio of English Desserts’; a strawberries and cream cheesecake, cherry bakewell tart and a raspberry cranachan. My favourite here is the strawberries and cream cheesecake, Toby prefers the bakewell tart. I made the bakwell and cheesecakes the day before to ease the pressure on the day. Again, we can say that we thought that were delicious but we will have to wait and see, the proof is in the pudding (ha).

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We then had a cheese course, the cheese was from a fantastic farmer’s market in Shipbourne and a stall called Traditional Cheese Dairy. We had two award winning cheeses including a British sheep cheese and a standard cheddar for the less adventurous. We teamed this with some chutney and quince jelly.

We tried to keep our alcohol British where possible, hence adding the Pimms to the prosecco. We also had Chapel Down‘s Flint Dry, Biddenden vineyards ‘Gribble Bridge’, The Traveling Apothecary’s Cucumber infused gin, Millis Brewing’s Gravesend Guzzler and some English distilled raspberry liqueur.

We have no idea how we scored yet, the last night is still to come but it has been great fun. We just went to one of the other dinner parties and feasted upon a multitude of Australian delights including; prawn, avocado and mango salad, kangaroo and crocodile burgers – it was terrific. We are looking forward to the last night – a “French-Polynesian menu, we will let you know how we score….

Key Lime Pie

Fruity and zesty deserts are my favourite. So, following a big mexican meal, I decided to try my hand at a Key Lime Pie, I don’t mean to blow my own trumpet, but it was delicious!

Ingredients

  • 200g ginger biscuits
  • 100g butter
  • Zest and juice of 4 limes
  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • Can of carnation condensed milk

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees
  2. Crush the biscuits until they resemble breadcrumbs
  3. Melt the butter and add this to the breadcrumbs, mix well and then put this at the bottom of your pie dish to make the biscuit base, bake for 15 minutes and allow to cool
  4. Put the sugar, lime zest, juice and yolks into a mixing bowl and mix well
  5. Add your condensed milk and continue to beat
  6. Pour the mix onto your biscuit base and bake for 20 minutes
  7. The pie should be set, with a slight wobble in the middle
  8. Allow to cool and decorate with lime slices or whipped double cream

It is so quick and easy, but so delicious. The pale green pie colour is beautiful too.

Ebly

So it is one of those unfortunate evenings when you do not have the time or energy to put together a culinary masterpiece, what do you do?

A recommendation is to give Ebly a go. This tasty stuff can easily fill out a meal of quick and easy food such as some roasted vegetables and meats.

We had it with some home made curry and simple veg. It is a brilliant alternative to rice and couscous and is perhaps even better when cold!

Ebly is fairly hard to come by and only a few Waitrose stores stock it, but if you ever see it around, get yourself a box and perhaps this will become a staple of your kitchen cupboards too!

Ice cream at the seaside

Now that the British summer has finally arrived (and stays we hope!) get yourself down to the beach at Broadstairs and treat yourself a delicious ice cream from Morellis.

The first of this now franchised ice cream chain opened in 1932 in Broadstairs. Morellis offer delicious homemade gelato in a range of gorgeous flavours. Now the gelato is so popular, Harrods have a Morrellis stand in their food hall!

Duck Sandwich

Borough Market is one of my favourite foodie places to visit in London. It caters for almost any cuisine you can imagine, serving up both delicious food to take away and raw ingredients to make the most exotic of recipes at home.

Passing through regularly, it is always a good place to grab some lunch and pictured is the overwhelmingly popular Duck Sandwich from Le Marché du Quarter. The vendor of this fine food craft is located right at the back of the market and is easily found by following the masses of people coming from there with these things in hand. You had better be quick though as there have been times that I have missed out due to there being no duck left!

What you can expect if you are early enough is a delicious crispy/smooth duck sandwich garnished with rocket on a Ciabatta bun. For £5 you cant go far wrong with this and it goes down oh so well with a delicious pint of New Forest Cider who have a stand just round the corner.

Herman The German Friendship Cake

This is how Herman came to us, in a jar and then decanted into a mixing bowl with a device Brunel himself would have been proud of. Herman is more of a concept than a food, the premise being that you share Herman with your friends. The best way to explain the idea is to look at the instructions below.

Our Herman came from a good friend who is also a total food nut and who was totally captured by the idea when it was shared with him. There is something about the lengthy process of raising Herman that gives the final product something quite special indeed.

Despite looking rather like a bucket of sick every time you ‘Stir well’ the end result is a true culmination of the labour of love put into Herman.

I can give my full recommendation that Herman The German Friendship Cake is a great thing to do with friends and family and a further recommendation that the final delicious and indeed, as the instructions say, enjoyed with ice cream when still warm is just amazing.

If you wan to start a new Herman, then this initial recipe is available at the Herman The German Friendship Cake website along with lots of other Herman related things.

Pho, the Perfect Hangover Cure

When we have been drinking in abundance (most weekends) and we wake up feeling we have been hit by a bus, we know there is one thing that can clear our muzzy heads, Pho noodle soups.

Pho Cafe is a Vietnamese London based chain restaurant offering a range of tasty and nutritious Vietnamese dishes. It feels cleansing, the perfect January detox food and amazingly soothing for any cold or hangover.

Despite being a carnivore, I often opt for the delicious vegetatian option at Pho. I like to start with veggie summer rolls and sweet chilli dipping sauce and then move on to a hot and spicy tofu and mushroom noodle soup.

Given that I am usually trying to get over the night before when visiting Pho, I find the flower teas both beautiful to look at and deliciously refreshing to drink. The prices are very reasonable, around £4 for a starter and £8 for a main.

The next time you feel you need to ‘clear your head’, you know where to go, PHO. Was the rhyme too much? I think so….

Lavender Shortbread

Having grown up in Kent, the ‘Garden of England’, we try to embrace all things Kentish and regularly visit Kent food festivals, pubs, vineyards and the like. We like to shop in the local farm shop and use Kent produce where possible.

With our wedding looming in the distance we wanted to make sure our wedding favours reflected our tastes, so I am embarking on a mission to bake the perfect Lavender shortbread recipe. Here is the recipe I used for Lavender shortbread trial 1:

  1. Two days prior to baking the shortbread infuse 130g of caster sugar with lavender culinary buds available from The Hop Shop (this is cheaper than buying Waitrose‘s pricey Lavender caster sugar)
  2. Line three baking trays with greaseproof paper and preheat your oven to 180c
  3. The baking stage – Rub 225g plain flour with the lavender caster sugar
  4. Beat 275g plain flour and 75g rice flour into the mix
  5. Add 5 drops of lavender culinary essence (also available from The Hop Shop) into the mixture, be careful not to do anymore, this is very overpowering stuff. Mix until it forms a dough like shortbread mixture
  6. Put the dough into clingfilm and pop it in the fridge to chill for 20-30 minutes
  7. Dust your working area with plain flour, roll the mixture out and cut into any shape you like, sprinkle on a little golden caster sugar if you like
  8. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool and enjoy

Baking this will fill your home with the most amazing lavender smell. We felt this was a good first trial and our friends and family who got to sample the batch gave us really good feedback. This would be great as a summer desert with some vanilla or even lavender ice cream!

Bloody Mary

Not one for spirits myself, I usually opt for a more nutritious option when that time of the evening rolls around where grab hands lunge at the liquor cabinet. Yes, the simple classic Bloody Mary is my cocktail of choice. To make it my way:

  1. Fill about 1/8th of a class with premium vodka (Smirnoff Black or Stolichnaya are superb)
  2. Drop in a few ice cubes
  3. Top up with Tomato Juice (Regular supermarket branded stuff usually does the trick as I find the branded lot a bit too overpowering)
  4. Stir in a little Horseradish sauce to taste
  5. Add a splash of lemon and/or lime juice
  6. Stir, stir and stir again
  7. Add a few drops of Lea and Perrins sauce
  8. Dunk in a big fat stick of celery

Drink and eat the celery as you go. Amazing.